Learn from Gold Medalist Stephen Kiprotich – In the end it’s up to you!


Stephen Kiprotich

You usually can’t tackle the biggest goals without the help of others, but there is often a time when you need to break away from those who got you this far if you want the highest prize.

It’s been a few weeks now since the closing ceremonies of the London Olympics. I’m sure we all have particular memories that won’t soon fade. Like the Queen welcoming James Bond into the sanctity of her room, then skydiving from a helicopter into Olympic Stadium. Nor will l soon forget the end of the men’s marathon. When I switched channels to the marathon about 45 minutes earlier, it was clear that unless something shocking occurred the three particular athletes in the photo would garner the medals. They had already created sufficient distance between themselves and the next closest runner that it was unlikely they would overcome the gap.

So all that remained to be seen was who would cross the line first. As usual, the TV commentators had that all sorted out. The two runners from Kenya, Abel Kirui and Wilson Kiprotich Kipsang, were just waiting for the opportune moment to break away from the Ugandan, relegating him to the bronze. As it turned out, the experts got it wrong. The Ugandan took the initiative and at mile 23, a moment of his choosing, pulled away from them as if they were standing still, and despite their best effort, steadily increased the distance between them. Then, grabbing a Ugandan flag from someone in the crowd, he crossed the finish line first to capture the gold medal.

My daughter says I always cheer for the underdog and she is usually right. But I was delighted to see the Ugandan pull away. After all, his contribution, including years of training with them in Kenya, was part of what enabled the Kenyans to pull away from the 30 or so marathoners in the pack behind them. Now, as the finish line neared, he could have passively waited for them to take the initiative and hope that he had enough left to stave off the “attack”. Instead, as we now know, he ensured that the final thrust would be contested on his terms and has no regret.

As you begin to incorporate social media into your career management strategy, and I increasingly believe that it is essential for many of us, you will soon discover that you need the help of others to become visible. Take a look at Engagement From Scratch, a great new book authored by Danny Iny, for some excellent perspectives from leading authorities on creating community. Just building it, however masterfully, does not ensure that “they will come”. But a shared vision will never be exactly like yours. Running alongside or just behind another runner will give you an excellent chance to be a part of their dream. But like Stephen Kiprotich, when the time comes to go for it, it will be up to you.

Many of those I have in mind as I write this post, are seeking employment in a field different than the one they have previously followed. That means new skills, a new mindset and fitting in within an environment that is a radical departure from the familiar world that is no longer available or won’t take you to the new dream. And it may require that you ignore well-meaning advice from others who helped you get this far. Do it anyway.

Use of the photo from her Flickr.com account was graciously granted by Not Quite Me and it can be found here.

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